Bellus3D, a 3D scanning company, has developed a way to provide a customized 3D print to assist with face masks.
Bellus3D is one of several companies providing a form of 3D scanning using smartphone technology. We first encountered them at CES a few years ago, as they were demonstrating their software to the public.
After trying the app, I realized it wasn’t particularly suitable for 3D printing as it did not produce printable solid 3D models. It requires you to turn left and right in front of the smartphone camera — but never showing the back of your head. Thus you only receive a totally not-watertight front face 3D model.
It did, however, produce outstanding 3D images that could be used in software requiring 3D faces. But to use their scans for 3D printing you would have to perform an amount of 3D CAD work to fill in the back side or mount the face on top of another structure.
3D Face Mask Fitter
Then I noticed they had added a new feature of their app to develop what they call a “Mask Fitter”. It’s a simple 3D print that’s designed to fit around the edges of your mask to prevent air from leaking in or out. Many masks being used these days are quite leaky and thus are less effective.
The Mask Fitter should resolve that as it will conform precisely to one’s face due to their 3D scan data. They simply “bend” a basic mask fitter design around your 3D scan.
“A standard face mask is loose-fitting and does not provide a tight seal.
But, face masks are less expensive, more widely available and can be homemade out of different materials.
The Bellus3D personalized Mask Fitter frame is a new innovation designed to be pressed on top of an existing face mask. It provides a comfortable, tight seal for significantly improved effectiveness. It is for personal use.”
The resulting customized 3D model can then be exported for 3D printing. Bellus3D currently offers a couple of options, including a free version of a basic mask fitter. For US$0.99 you can get the customized Mask Fitter with your name embossed on the surface. A “Tall” version is available for US$1.99, and for US$2.99 a “Premium” version includes a structure that pushes mask material away from your mouth — a welcome comfort feature!
I tried making one of these and found it to be incredibly simple to do, and the resulting 3D model can also be made on any 3D printer. You’ll have to use a fair bit of support material, though, due to the non-flat design of the Mask Fitter.
Our friend Joel Telling also tried out the Mask Fitter in one of his latest 3D Printing Nerd videos:
Leveraging 3D Resources for COVID-19
While this is a relatively minor feature in the app, it is a very good demonstration of ingenuity. Bellus3D obviously had very limited options for assisting with the virus situation, but they found a way to leverage their resources to come up with something that is truly useful.
If you’d like to try this yourself, it’s pretty straightforward: start by downloading the Bellus3D face scanning app from the iOS or Google app stores, and just follow the instructions.